Chloé: Without pyrotechnics or fanfare, Phoebe Philo knows how to ignite a collection — clothes! Her Chloé customer is a good-time girl with a packed social calendar, expensive tastes and an easygoing attitude, not at all unlike Philo herself. And not unlike her style-savvy peers, whether they hail from London or elsewhere. They’re into dressing in a way that is sexy, but not trampy, and clothes that are distinctive, but not eccentric. No wonder Philo is becoming their go-to girl. In Los Angeles, she’s quietly gaining a market share among slim, tan starlets, and in New York, select members of the swan set, including local trendsetter Karen Groos, have begun working the label.

For spring, Philo sent out crisp lace shirts, chic denim skirts and slinky smocked dresses in an ode to the sporty, preppy sensibility that came into vogue when she was still a kid. But it’s easy to imagine Groos and her crew wearing the same. For après-beach, Philo served up a white gauze shirt streaked with indigo over a pair of white jeans, elegantly double-braided at the waist. A grass-green sundress swung from its bandeau top, while a little black dress, banded with smocking and tied around the neck with beaded cords, is an obvious must-have. Meanwhile, Philo was clever to revisit the popular pompons and webby macramé of last spring’s collection. Sometimes you just can’t get enough of a good thing.



Nina Ricci: Exercising a supremely delicate touch, Lars Nilsson whipped up a Nina Ricci collection that was as light as meringue. Full of filmy tops, demure skirts and fresh dresses, Nilsson’s debut at the house was just what Lars lovers in the audience were hoping for, pretty clothes done for the sake of prettiness.

All his ladylike looks for day were innocent, bright and slightly “Belle de Jour.” A lemon chiffon camisole trimmed with dainty lace was shown with a bow-bedecked pencil skirt, while a mauve camisole edged in black topped a pair of tailored shorts. Nilsson’s best, however, were his dresses, each given a sweet tweak of its own. The sportiest was a light yellow tweed apron dress layered over an haute T-shirt; the prettiest, a party dress in layered ruffles of daisy lace; the ritziest, an orange number that came dripping with dazzling beads. Nilsson knows just what fanciful party goers want, after all.While the collection wasn’t perfect, it was a good start. Nilsson seems more at home at Ricci than he ever did at Bill Blass, and he’s taking the label in a breezy new direction with panache.



Givenchy: Who, exactly, is this Givenchy customer? Just outside the show in the Tuileries, signs were posted for the entrances for the press, retailers and clients. But it’s hard to imagine the woman who might fall into that third category. Julien Macdonald has been with the house for five seasons, and she still seems obscure. Meanwhile, Macdonald has yet to prove to those in the first two categories that he has what it takes to create a viable identity for the label. Not that he hasn’t tried. He’s gone low brow, taken a more haute approach, tried doing commercial clothes that fell somewhere in between. But the formulas haven’t clicked.

This season, he showed full-flowing, crinkled-gauze gowns inset with macramé banding and trimmed with tassels, of the sort girls wore in the Seventies when they wandered backlit through waving fields of wheat. Tiny fencing jackets topped voluminous white shirts and soft cropped pants to create a pirate-y look. And Macdonald displayed his much-touted talent for knits this season with a macramé swimsuit series.

Givenchy is a big name with a relatively small ready-to-wear business, and thrives, for the most part, on fragrance sales. What role fashion will play in the future at this house remains to be seen, especially since Macdonald’s contract is up in July. And the fashion flock is wondering how that scenario will play out.




Rick Owens: The Rick Owens recipe calls for a Goth-, industrial- and organic-looking mix. Each season, Owens tinkers with his formula, roughing things up or smoothing them out, adding or subtracting. For spring, he went into cleanup mode, sending out a tidier, more brightly colored adaptation of his signature look.

The best pieces were tissue-thin knits, worn layered, and those clever jackets his fans flip for, shown pieced together from paper-light leather, washed satin and ribbed knit with their undone sash belts swishing. There was a pale gray canvas jacket with a fantail back panel, and a backless leather version with extravagantly long sleeves. These came over all manner of asymmetrical skirts, from minis that dripped down to the ankle, to others that tucked themselves around on one leg like bloomers. Some of these layered, drapy pieces worked better than others, which looked a little chaotic.For the most part, however, Owens stuck to the more done, rather than undone, end of the deconstruction scale. It was a wise choice and made for a better collection than some of his previous forays.



Ann Demeulemeester: Mood swings aren’t Ann Demeulemeester’s thing. She does what she does, referencing her rock and Goth roots, working in black and white, take it or leave it. For spring she fetishized the pouch pocket, using the saggy bagginess of it wherever she could to decorate a collection full of black-and-white basics. Tank tops, printed with the enigmatic phrase, “Til Roses,” were mixed in with loose jackets, apron dresses and belted skirts, all worn with the ease of a sweater tied around the waist. From first to last, the lot came peppered with pouches at the shoulder, hip and hem. A lightweight leather coat was saddled with a pair, as were simple minidresses, while a jacket was hung with pouch pockets in tiers. Pants were pouched at the hip and then again with pockets that tangled around the ankles.

For her fans, these are comfort clothes. But for many in the audience, watching the show was akin to listening to a skipping record — and not just because she played different renditions of the same song throughout the show. There were some interesting black-and-white printed dresses within the parade. But when she was first becoming known, Demeulemeester pioneered a new school of cool that was dark, romantic and deep. For the most part, these clothes lacked the sense of experimentation that made her a star.

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